You hear the old adage– “if its too good to be true . . . . ” Homeowners in New York and elsewhere should be on the look out for the newest form of fraud on the rise–“house theft.” Under various permutations of the fraud, con men and thieves conspire to to take ‘ownership’ of a home through various scams and false documents. In one version, the group acquires a house then ‘sells’ it to their associates, who obtain a loan from unsuspecting banks. The fictitious ‘seller,’ gets paid the loan proceeds, and then shares the sale proceeds with the fraudulent ‘buyer.’
The FBI estimates that from 2007 to the 2008, the reported cases of house theft have jumped 36% to an estimated 64,000 incidents. House theft, also known as title theft, most frequently occurs in larger urban areas particularly in cities with many vacant properties such as Detroit and Miami.
In reaction, several new online services offer free help to protect homeowners from house theft. Among its free services, www.ePropertyWatch.com provides informal house appraisals, monitors public real estate documents, and alerts homeowners to possible criminal activity. ePropertyWatch will also provide information on recent sales and foreclosures in the user’s neighborhood and observe long-term changes in the median sale prices relative to a ZIP code.
Bottom line, you can never be too careful in today’s world of sophisticated criminals. At Klose & Associates, we take care to assist our clients to thoroughly investigate every real estate transaction.